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Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music.
In 1973 The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing made headlines more for its behind-the-scenes shenanigans than its artistic accomplishment. A beautifully shot western and love story starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles, both leads were called to testify in court after the mysterious death (later ruled a suicide) of Miles's manager/boyfriend on location. Later, Reynolds suffered a hernia while filming a fight scene and had to be hospitalized, leaving director Richard C. Sarafian and M-G-M scrambling to the make the film's release date.
The backstage drama even extended to the film's scoring. Composer Michel Legrand had been hired by the original director, Brian Hutton, and wrote and recorded an unusual, meditative score—his first for a western—featuring Indian chants (performed by Legrand himself) and ethnic instrumentation. The filmmakers quickly decided to go in a different direction, and hired John Williams, then proving himself as the brightest of his generation of composers but still a few years away from international fame—who had one week to write and record his score.
Despite the rushed schedule, Williams succeeded with a cross between the symphonic, Coplandesque Americana of The Cowboys (1972) and the quirky, pop-based riffs of The Missouri Breaks (1976), featuring a memorable main theme in his inimitible "blue note" style (The Reivers, Rosewood). The score is a lost gem from Williams's pre-Jaws but post-comedy career, during which he was a master at providing sparse but effective—and always melodic—scores for delicate dramas such as Cinderella Libety, The Paper Chase and The Sugarland Express, with larger symphonic refrains in the classic Williams style.
FSM's CD features Williams's complete, previously unreleased score for The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, including deleted and alternate cues. It also features Legrand's complete recorded score, including a six-minute jazz improvisation on his main theme—not only previously unreleased, but previously unheard. The all-stereo CD is a priceless and rare opportunity to hear two distinguished composers' take on the same cinematic subject matter. Liner notes are by John Williams webmaster Jeff Eldridge.